NEUSS.- Every private collection has its own history, each just as unique as the people who have compiled it. Why do people collect art? Which motives spark the inception of an art collection? This exhibition on the occasion of the 100th birthday of collector and benefactor Marianne Langen sets out to illustrate the approach taken by Marianne and Viktor Langen in creating their exceptional collection with works from very different cultural spheres.
Marianne Langen first came into contact with foreign cultures during extended trips overseas upon which she embarked first as a young woman and later together with her husband. The more intensely Marianne and Viktor Langen explored their own, Western culture, the more interested they became with candour and curiosity in the art of foreign cultures. They conceived of art as the key to understanding the world and, based upon this stance, started collecting artwork. The exhibition aims to shed light on this personal approach, which is guided by neither the canon of art history nor the calculated directives of the art market.
In addition to the 300 works in the collection Painting of the 20th Century and in the Japan collection, the latter being one of a kind within Europe, the Viktor and Marianne Langen Collection encompasses over 100 Buddhist sculptures from India, Cambodia, and Thailand as well as upwards of 130 pre-Columbian art objects. This is augmented by smaller groups of Chinese, Korean, African, Oceanic, Egyptian, Ancient Greek, and Ancient Persian art. For the first time, a representative survey of all facets of the collection is being presented thanks to this exhibition.
Marianne and Viktor Langen, a married couple from the Rhineland, lived together with their art. Their residences in Meerbusch, Germany, and Ascona, Switzerland, were full of paintings and sculptures that were periodically interchanged. In 1979 the collectors erected a private museum in Ascona to house their collection of Japanese picture scrolls. Since 2004 the Langen Collection has been situated in the art and exhibition facility of the Langen Foundation. This building, which was initiated and endowed by Marianne Langen, is located on the grounds of a former NATO base as part of the Hombroich Cultural Environment. The structure designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando was said by Marianne Langen to have been the largest work of art that I have ever purchased. As fate would have it, she sadly did not live to see its opening.